In recent times, Google has been eyeing the Indian market. This is because of the recent expansion of the Indian market, which has turned it into a potential gold mine for Google and other online service providers. Combined with the fact that the Indian market is expected to continue expanding for some time to come, it is no wonder that Google is focusing on the region. To understand what is happening, it is important to note that the Indian government has been pushing a massive expansion of the Indian Internet user base. Some of its measures have been harsh, with examples ranging from forcing businesses to file digital records to invalidating most of the paper currency in circulation in an effort to encourage digital payment methods. However, the results are undeniable.
For those who are curious, there are now about 390 million Indian Internet users, which is about twice the number of Indian Internet users in 2016. This shows the unbelievable rate of increase, but what is even more interesting is the fact that 390 million people is about a third of India’s total population. In other words, Google and other service providers have excellent reason to believe that the number of Indian Internet users will continue to increase by leaps and bounds for the foreseeable future, thus making the region very important indeed in their calculations.
Of course, there some serious issues that will need to be overcome before Google and other online service providers can tap into the potential represented by this user base. One obvious example would be the millions and millions of Indian Internet users who speak their own languages but nothing else, thus creating a need for the relevant services to be translated into languages that are understandable by them. Another example would be how a significant percentage of those Indian Internet users are illiterate, meaning that services must be redesigned to accommodate their particular limitations. On top of this, there is even how Internet connectivity can be pretty patchy in much of India, which is perhaps unsurprising considering the speed at which the country has been setting up its Internet infrastructure.
Still, it is clear that Google is willing to overcome these problems. To use an example, consider the story of how Google has adapted Google Maps for the Indian market. Since a lot of Indian streets either don’t have names or don’t have names that are familiar to the local residents, Google Maps was changed so that it would provide its instructions in a more naturalistic fashion that makes frequent use of landmarks. Likewise, the patchy Internet connectivity was overcome by making it possible for users to download the instructions, which has proven to be popular enough to spread elsewhere. In fact, it is entertaining to note that there is even an offline version of YouTube nowadays, thus showing the power of this particular innovation.
With that said, Google Maps has also managed to become very popular because it is available in about 10 languages, which is no more than a fraction of the 50 or so languages spoken in India but nonetheless represents a huge step-up in accessibility for a lot of people out there. In some cases, Google literally had to send in its employees to create databases for languages by interacting with local speakers, which might be laborious and time-consuming but has nonetheless enabled them to build a powerful connection with people who are seeing online services made available to them in their own languages for the first time.
Summed up, the Indian market represents incredible opportunities for Google and other online service providers that are willing to put in the time, effort, and other resources needed to tap into it. However, it should be mentioned that Google isn’t planning to stop there. Simply put, it sees its Indian operations as not just a way to secure a potential billion-plus user base but also as a learning process. India is the country that is seeing a massive explosion in its number of Internet users right now, but the same phenomenon will be repeated in other countries in the time to come, which in turn, will represent further opportunities for those that are well-prepared.